In order to better understand the current climate of Mars, we seek to understand atmospheric water in the north polar region. Our approach is to examine the water transport and cycling issues within the north polar region and in/out of the region on seasonal and annual timescales. Viking Mars Atmospheric Water Detector (MAWD) data showed that water vapor increased as the northern summer season progressed and temperatures increased, and that vapor appeared to be transported southward . However, there has been uncertainty about the amount of water cycling in and out of the north polar region, as evidenced by residual polar cap visible brightness changes between one Martian year (Mariner 9 data) and a subsequent year (Viking data). These changes were originally thought to be interannual variations in the amount of frost sublimed based on global dust storm activity . However, Viking thermal and imaging data were re-examined and it was found that 14-35 pr m of water -ice appeared to be deposited on the cap later in the summer season, indicating that some water may be retained and redistributed within the polar cap region. This late summer deposition could be due to adsorption directly onto the cap surface or due to snowfall. We seek to understand what happens to the water on seasonal and interannual timescales. We address these issues by examining water vapor in the north polar region of Mars during the north spring and summer period from MGS TES data and by comparing these results to the Viking MAWD results.
Goddard Space Flight Center; Jet Propulsion Laboratory